At last week's HBO Emmy party, Seth MacFarlane was in good spirits as the question of his hosting the 85th Oscarcast made the rounds. He's a hit on TV ("Family Guy") and as host of several awards shows around town, including the WGA Awards. Now, having written and directed Universal summer hit "Ted" ($420 million worldwide) he even has movie cred.
I was hoping against hope that Universal's "Les Miserables" awards contender would propel musically gifted stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway into host contention. (Surely they will be presenters.) But the hosting gig goes to another Universal star, MacFarlane, as the Academy and ABC continue–Billy Crystal was a last-minute act of filling in, clearly, when the producer-host combo Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy blew up– to push relentlessly for a younger demo.
MacFarlane can be inside-Hollywood funny, and he can perform a musical number too. I laughed heartily at his take on "The Music Man"'s "Trouble" below. And he's a gifted comic writer. But he's not the class act some other choices–Jackman, Steve Martin, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tina Fey come to mind–might have been. He's on the crass and young-male-demo side of the equation, if you ask me.
"It's truly an overwhelming privilege to be asked to host the Oscars," said MacFarlane, whose appearance on the February 24 ABC telecast will be his first. "My thoughts upon hearing the news were, one, I will do my utmost to live up to the high standards set forth by my predecessors; and two, I hope they don't find out I hosted the Charlie Sheen Roast."
"We are thrilled to have Seth MacFarlane host the Oscars. His performing skills blend perfectly with our ideas for making the show entertaining and fresh," said telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. "He will be the consummate host, and we are so happy to be working with him."
MacFarlane gave the Meron and Zadan a comfort zone as a live performer. He not only rocked when he made his debut as host of the season premiere of "Saturday Night Live," but has played to sold-out audiences at London's Royal Albert and New York's Carnegie Hall. His 2011 debut album, "Music Is Better Than Words," earned two Grammy® nominations.